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Robert Reich begins with a ... "Quiz: Which of the 2012 presidential aspirants delivered the following words at the Conservative Political Action Convention, now underway in Washington?"

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

Who Says Republicans Have No New Ideas?

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

13 February


uiz: Which of the 2012 presidential aspirants delivered the following words at the Conservative Political Action Convention, now underway in Washington?

We have seen tax-and-tax spend-and-spend reach a fantastic total greater than in all the previous 170 years of our Republic.

Behind this plush curtain of tax and spend, three sinister spooks or ghosts are mixing poison for the American people. They are the shades of Mussolini, with his bureaucratic fascism; of Karl Marx, and his socialism; and of Lord Keynes, with his perpetual government spending, deficits, and inflation. And we added a new ideology of our own. That is government give-away programs....

If you want to see pure socialism mixed with give-away programs, take a look at socialized medicine.

If you guessed Jim DeMint, you could be forgiven. He talks a lot like this. But you'd be wrong. Newt Gingrich didn't utter these precise words, either, although he uses much the same language and offers the same themes.

You'd also be wrong if you guessed Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Haley Barbour, John Thune, Mitt Romney, or Mitch Daniels. (Sarah Palin isn't attending.)

But again, your mistake would be understandable because these words sound a lot like theirs. Any of them could have delivered this message - and all of them have, over and over again. It's the Republican message of 2011.

The perfectly correct answer is Herbert Hoover.

Herbert Hoover didn't deliver these words at this week's Conservative Political Action Convention, though. He delivered them at the Republican National Convention in Chicago on July 8, 1952.

That was almost sixty years ago.

Republicans haven't come up with a single new idea since. They haven't even come up with a new theme.

Herbert Hoover, you may remember, didn't have a sterling record when it came to the economy. As president, he presided over the Great Crash of 1929 and ushered in the Great Depression. He had no idea for what to do to help the nation out of the Depression except to balance the federal budget. By the time he was voted out of office in 1932, one out of four Americans was unemployed.

By 1952, Hoover had been proven irrelevant and hidebound.

After Dwight D. Eisenhower won the 1952 Republican nomination and went on to become president, he wisely disregarded everything Hoover had advised.

Under Ike, the marginal income tax on America's highest earners was 91 percent. Eisenhower also commenced the biggest infrastructure program in the nation's history - the National Interstate and Defense Highway Act, which replaced America's meandering two-lane roads with 40,000 miles of straight four and six-lane highways. He signed into law the National Defense Education Act, which trained a whole generation of math and science teachers, and upgraded American classrooms for the future. The Federal Housing Authority subsidized home ownership. The Defense Department spawned future technologies in aerospace and telecommunications.

Did the US suffer fascism, socialism, deficits and inflation, as Hoover predicted? No. The US economy soared. The median wage rose faster than ever before. And the incomes of America's working class and poor rose at the fastest pace of all.

Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including "The Work of Nations," "Locked in the Cabinet," "Supercapitalism" and his latest book, "AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America's Future." His 'Marketplace' commentaries can be found on and iTunes. your social media marketing partner


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-53 # 2011-02-13 12:15
Hoover talked like this during the campaign but while in office proceeded to behave just like the "socialists" he had criticized. No surprise there.

I can also find ardently pro-capitalist messages in FDR campaign speeches -- as usual, if a politician's lips are moving, you can be certain that what you are hearing is untrue.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
+42 # billy bob 2011-02-13 14:05
OF COURSE you can find "ardently pro-capitalist messages in FDR campaign speeches"! HE WAS A CAPITALIST!

Deal with it.
+34 # Kay 2011-02-13 16:32
Not only was FDR a capitalist - his actions saved capitalism from itself. America could sure use some FDR today!
+3 # Capn Canard 2011-02-17 13:17
Inason, Both sides lie because that is the American way of adversarial politics. These Hooverian policies are no more than FAILED policies. Repeating such is the usual definition of INSANITY. Is this too much for the pinheads to understand? Attempting to put sixty pounds of shitte into a ten pound Tea bag will not work. You need far more than that to overcome the conservative side's inability to comprehend these issues of a failed a pseudo-Ponzi scheme economy. To recap: giving more of OUR hard earned money to the wealthy WILL NOT MAKE YOU WEALTHY, OR EVEN MIDDLE CLASS, HELL IT WON'T EVEN GET YOU A JOB ONCE YOU GRADUATE FROM JUCO. Both Roosevelts were Red Blooded Capitalists and both made SIGNIFICANT CHANGES in the difficult process of saving that wet dream of Capitialism from itself. Try not being so selective with the facts of history. Our nation is in a serious cluster, and the hoes of the Republican Congress are doing their best to give what little money we may have to the wealthy. CONGRATULATIONS !!! THIS IS CLASS WARFARE and your side is "winning"
+2 # rjwalker 2011-02-18 08:44
The "all government and politicians are evil" point of view is, in my opinion, destroying this country.

Our founders "pledge[d] to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor" and fought and died to create our country.

They created our government and set forth its missions:
* form a more perfect Union,
* establish Justice,
* insure domestic Tranquility,
* provide for the common defence,
* promote the general Welfare, and
* secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

I believe firmly that we do not honor their vision or their sacrifices by attacking our government.

BTW, "maximize shareholder value" didn't make the list for the missions of our government
+45 # Jawbone Grouch 2011-02-13 12:39
I weep for this nation.

Between the Paragons of Herbert Hoover and Ronald Reagan still flying high for those of the RepublicanTeaba g Party persuasion,stan d the "hope" of the nation put forth by this benighted politacal breakdown of ideas for a nation in collapse.

Will some one stop the deluge?

Palin for President, anyone?
Read her Egypt statement!

Several wise persons have said, "this too shall pass."

I'm no longer sure.
+47 # Fernando Feliciano 2011-02-13 12:47
We must remember, that the Republican Party stands for one thing, one alone, that being, what the MILITARY-INDUST RIAL"RELIGIOUS" COMPLEX! demands, and, not, in the least, what is GOOD for the Nation as a whole. For those who doubt take a good look at where the tax dollars go.
Our infrastructure is deteriorating and the educational system is back to where it was when we experienced the American Revolution, but the MIRC wants "NO" regulation, NO, funding for education, NO reins on Wall street, an increasing interference by the religious right in our governance, and continuation of the anti-Constituti onal 'patriot act.
Brisbane CA
+7 # Lesabre 2011-02-13 13:10
Palin is doing a good job for the Repubs and the Tea Bags where she is and they know it. If she actually got in the White House it would be an interesting spectial even if the Dark Force behind the curtain was actually running things like when Bush was in. I really believe he didn't have a clue that Chaney, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft were really running things...Bush was just a loose mouth that every redneck in the country thought was not letting anyone get away with anything... Palin Might not be any different if they could keep her from catching on.
+13 # Hector 2011-02-13 13:12
The biggest give-away program in this country occurred when tracks of land were given free to settlers to help populate and develop the midwest and west; talk about socialism.
+11 # ER444 2011-02-14 03:09
Heh Hector, This program wasn't socialism, actually it was Genocide! Whose land were "they" giving away? It was purely the cheapest way to invade the rest of a continent that was brutally taken away from native Americans. Only through this system of what you call socialism the government didn't have to spend money to send the army to do the dirty work. They just declared a free for all, and the "brave settlers" (alias white Europeans)rushe d in the tens of thousands armed to the teeth and did the murdering at discount prices. This is one of many horrible stories of the European invasion of the Western Hemisphere. The big problem now is, the "white European" alis Sarah Palin and Tea Baggers, can't stand the fact that this story is taking another track where a black man is President, and people of other races are gaining in political muscle. Woe is us !! By the way, our Hispanic brothers to the south were at least as brutal as the British, Germans and the French as they literally erased some of the most awsome cultures that ever existed on this planet. Still can't figure why the Hispanic culture is so unpopular in so many parts of the USA, see Arizona. They helped us take over the place hundreds of years ago. In the end, what is being taught in our schools about our sordid past is grotesque, and we need to step back and rethink what America is!!
+2 # Capn Canard 2011-02-17 13:21
Capitalism, Genocide ... is there a difference? Beyond the superficial, both are monsters that devour with extreme prejudice and the story ends the same way.
+19 # Bonnie Hughes 2011-02-13 13:32
When will Obama remember that he can make jobs as well as supporting the corporations. He never mentions the poor.
+2 # rjwalker 2011-02-18 08:49
Sadly, he is too far immersed in the "free markets are the answer to everything" view Chicago School of Economics.

He looks to the workers of America to dig in and help rebuild the economy, and ignores that American workers have worked ever harder, increased productivity, and remained economically stagnant over the past 30 years.

He apparently missed the class lecture and discussion of the need for rewards in the human psyche
+2 # SteveH 2011-02-13 13:40
I don't understand why Ike gets credit for the US highway system. It is the number one fault for sprawl and, by extension, more CO2 than we'd have had without it.
+1 # giraffe 2011-02-13 14:41
Quoting SteveH:
I don't understand why Ike gets credit for the US highway system. It is the number one fault for sprawl and, by extension, more CO2 than we'd have had without it.

He created job and who knew we'd have open borders to allow so many PEOPLE into this country. Maybe somebody should have made a "steam engine" for the CAR? Still an idea?
+4 # rOGER aRMSTRONG 2011-02-14 17:41
Quoting giraffe:
Quoting SteveH:
I don't understand why Ike gets credit for the US highway system. It is the number one fault for sprawl and, by extension, more CO2 than we'd have had without it.

He created job and who knew we'd have open borders to allow so many PEOPLE into this country. Maybe somebody should have made a "steam engine" for the CAR? Still an idea?

Six 18 wheeler steam driven trucks were teasted by White Moter Co in the 60's and were a great success. Ford And Volvo trucks bought them out. [wonder why?] I think Volve has the patent to produce the truck. A standard truck engine is modified with a new "cam" shaft designed for the steam piston cycle. Steam was produced Via a flash LP 5 gal boiler for the cars. Steam cars were produced as late as 1929 by Stanly.
The modification was developed by a Pittsburg mechanic who would modified your 6 cylinder car engine for $200. I was going to have a Jeep done but he sold the rights to White Moter the week before.
Roger Armstrong
+1 # Capn Canard 2011-02-17 13:28
try exploring Alcohol. Check out David Blume's Alcohol can be a gas. Or Josh Tickell's Biodiesel. Both are renewable and would add far more to the local economies and the larger economy en masse. Just a thought...
+2 # Capn Canard 2011-02-17 13:25
the idea of the lone cowboy, riding alone to the next frontier. That mythology is ugly. Prior to 1950's we had Mass Transit that worked efficiently, now we are stuck with a dangerous cluster of stupidity.
+8 # Ken Hall 2011-02-13 22:59
He gets credit 'cuz it was planned and initiated while he was in office, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Definitely increased interstate commerce. Alteration of the global climate by human activity wasn't even on the radar screen until the 60's, as far as I know.
+5 # rmholt 2011-02-13 14:35
If Obama didnt supply ENOUGH stimulus as proposed by Krugman, he will fail and the (large sic) size of the stimulus will be blamed.
+12 # giraffe 2011-02-13 14:39
My guess was that Beck was running and had said that -- "When will we ever learn"

One think WE CAN DO - is get out and VOTE. Get ur DEM, Progressive, etc. friends to the polls.

The GOP won so many seats in 2011 - was, in part, because THEY VOTE.

Boner on "face the nation" this a.m. did his "double speak" - implying President Obama -- caused the mess we're in -- including the Freddie/Fanny -- IMPLIED is the clear rhetoric of the GOP pundits. The Fat Cat at whatever the R's held yesterday (Saturday) - was worse.
+3 # rf 2011-02-14 06:44
We only get to vote for the right wing crap on the Obama.
+10 # Foxtrottango 2011-02-13 14:49
The CPAC looked more like a gathering of vultures than anything else. What do they expect us to call them, that they are "gifted?"

These right wing conservatives leave a bad taste in one's mouth, to say the least.
+20 # HommeVieux2 2011-02-13 15:29
Notice that every one of Eisenhower's programs named above had the word "Defense"in it.

Anyone for the National Medical Care Defense Act so we can have a healthy population to fight off the enemy ? For the Energy Defense Act to develop energy available from our wind and sun ? Or a Fiscal Sanity Defense Act where we agree to maintain affordable military spending equal to the level of the next six powers beneath us -- added together -- thereby cutting our military budget by 274 billion dollars each year ?

There are more ways to use that word than the Repuglicans have begun to think of, or the pitiful Democrats either.
+12 # Martha Luehrmann 2011-02-13 16:17
Good for you, Bob! I loved the Herbert Hoover quote! You are right -- not much new under the sun.
+17 # nonie hubrecht 2011-02-13 16:44
Latest figures (fiscal year 2009) show that total US government outlays were: 36% current military, 18% past military debt repayments for a total of 54% for all military spending. Non-military spending was 30% human resources, 11% general government and 5% for physical resources. It looks to me as though the most socialistic aspect of our government is the military. Let's start cutting there. And let's stop wasting money on killing strangers in cultures we don't begin to understand.
+3 # Walther 2011-02-13 17:27
I was at CPAC and it was amazing to watch how PRO-PEACE and PRO-POT candidates dominated the event with Ron Paul and Gary Johnson receiving 1st and 3rd place respectively. It was obvious to everyone there that the GOP grassroots is now libertarian and it's only a matter of time before the entire party is transformed by the younger generation.

Robert Reich and many people on this discussion board like to demonize "other" people but that attitude only plays into the hands of the establishment. The liberty community would prefer to partner up with 'liberals' and 'progressives' to END THE WARS and END the FED. We welcome you with open arms.

PS. Conservatives don't have 'new' ideas, we celebrate old ones: freedom, liberty, opennness.
+1 # Capn Canard 2011-02-17 13:36
I beg to differ. "Others" are not demonized at all. It is quite the opposite and that seems to really frighten Conservative Libertarian ideology. I like Ron Paul, but some of his policy ideas would be very dangerous for the lower classes and consequently for us all.
+4 # Eliz77 2011-02-13 18:49
The conservatives don't vote for Palin. At the latest Conservative conference they gave Palin 3% of the vote.
+5 # mrgaribaldi2263 2011-02-13 22:58
Thanks for the historical perspective, Mr. Reich. Too bad infrastructure doesn't get the attention it deserves.
+1 # gnosticonIV 2011-02-13 23:19
Conservatives, no doubt, HAVE read:
+1 # poppia 2011-02-14 07:42
+3 # Auntie EM 2011-02-14 11:19
Please don't use all caps - it's hard to read. thank you!
-2 # KMC 2011-02-17 02:52
+3 # granny 2011-02-16 08:04
"freedom, liberty, openness" - Waither, where have you been?
0 # rjwalker 2011-02-18 08:37
>> [Hoover] had no idea for what to do to help the nation out of the Depression except to balance the federal budget.

Not true. At least, according to a book on the WPA I just read, he serious suggested that what the nation needed was a good song to lift everyone's spirits.

(I think the book was "The Enduring Legacy of the WPA American Made" by Nick Taylor: -well worth reading. I read a copy I borrowed from my socialist library.)

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